For a comedian who’s been performing since they were a teenager, we get the sense that Mae Martin is only just getting started.
Born in Canada, the comic was raised with the greats—from Mothy Python to Kids In The Hall—so it was only a matter of time before they got a mic in their hands.
After battling addiction in the early 2000s, Martin continued honing their craft, making a name for themself on the European comedy scene. But it was their semi-autobiographical dramedy Feel Good—which followed the life and career of a comic named Mae overcoming addiction (sound familiar?)—that broke Martin through to the international stage when it dropped on Netflix in 2020.
Now, Martin returns to the streaming giant for their first-ever hour-long comedy special, SAP, directed by their pal and Broad City vet Abbi Jacobson. Premiering March 28, the special finds Martin in their sweet spot: On a stage telling insightful, hilarious jokes about everything from a mystical moose to how they got the nickname “Bathwater” in rehab.
Ahead of SAP‘s debut, Queerty was thrilled to have Martin in the hot seat as the latest guest in our rapid-fire Q&A series, Dishin’ It. In our discussion, the preview the highly-anticipated special, reveal the cinematic orgy scene that changed their life, and confirm that, yes, kissing Ted Lasso’s Brett Goldstein is as amazing as you’d imagine.
QUEERTY: Is there a piece of media—whether a movie, TV series, book, album, games, etc…—that you consider a big part of your own coming-out journey, or that has played an important part in exploring your own queerness? Why does it stand out to you?
MARTIN: Rocky Horror Picture Show, which is a family favorite and was shown to me at a very young age. Like, when I was six years old, I was getting in trouble from teachers for singing “Sweet Transvestite” at school.
I think that movie gets written off as a wacky movie with a cult following, but it’s pretty remarkable how boundary-exploding it was, especially for the time. My grandfather was actually an actor in the stage version in London in the ’70s, playing “The Narrator.”
Rocky Horror was huge for me, but less in my “coming out” journey and more in the realization that I never had to be “in.” The fact that my parents celebrated that movie, and that they revered Frank’N’Furter, made me feel safe to be exactly who I was.
I was so profoundly attracted to Tim Curry in that movie—what a god. There’s a scene near the end where Frank sings “Don’t Dream It, Be It” (a great motto) and there’s a big writhing bisexual sort of orgy scene in a swimming pool. I thought, “Get. Me. In. That. Pool.,” and I couldn’t imagine how anyone could find something so beautiful to be abhorrent. Also, I never met my grandfather, but knowing that in his 50s he was on stage in fishnet stockings doing the Time Warp makes me think we would have got along like a house on fire.
One of your major breakthroughs was your solo comedy show, Dope, which takes its name from—and is largely about—your addictive personality. With that in mind, what inspired the title of your new comedy special, SAP? What does it say about you?
The title SAP comes from a kind of parable I tell at the end of the special, that relates to looking for the positive even when the world feels like an absolute steaming pile of garbage.
I guess there’s a double meaning too where sap can mean a sort of weasel-y wimp which is an apt descriptor for how I feel inside sometimes. Don’t we all? I guess my last special Dope was about facing my own shortcomings and this show is slightly more outward facing.
In Feel Good, there’s that unforgettable line where you get called an “Androgynous Muppet.” Which Muppet character do you most relate to and why? And, bonus: If you could star alongside the Muppets in a remake of a famous story, what would it be?
HA! I think the character I had in my head when I wrote that was Beeker. He’s so stressed out and can’t hide his feelings. I’d like to star along side the muppets in a remake of One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest. Too dark?
Speaking of Feel Good, what would you say was the most difficult aspect of playing a version of yourself on TV? What was the most rewarding?
Hmm. I think my character in Feel Good, who is largely based on me but kind of dialed up to 140 percent, was the most difficult of all the characters in the series to write. I was lucky that I had my co-writer, Joe Hampson, to help me detach from it and not self-edit too much.
I found it a lot easier to write the characters who were presenting the counter-arguments to my character’s flawed world-view, maybe because my character was sort of a younger version of me, and I was writing from a place of more balanced understanding. At least I hope I was.
In SAP, you describe your father as a “mystical” guy. Do you have any specific “mystical” beliefs he instilled in you that you’ve held onto over the years? How has his mysticalness influenced your comedy?
Both my parents have a very whimsical and mystical sensibility, but my dad especially, yes. My Dad has recently gotten into tarot readings in quite a big way, and is making puppets. Our family has a sort of internal atlas of fictional places he’s created like “The Dingly Dell” which is populated by “Gurgies,” “Beekie Birds,” “Bandas,” and various characters like “Belinda Bighead” and “Boon Monkey” who all have their own mythologies. It’s all pretty surreal in my house. I love it.
In terms of my own mysticism, you know, I’m not sure. I’m into the moon. I currently have a small piece of amethyst in my bag. Deep down I think reality is all an illusory simulation. That kind of chill casual stuff. Who knows, right?
The world wants to know: What was it like kissing Brett Goldstein?
I love kissing Brett Goldstein. Who wouldn’t? The jawline and forehead of a superhero, the heart of an angel.
In your special, you talk about how we keep a lot of our experiences in our memories as if they were novelty snow globes on a shelf. With that in mind, what’s a “snow globe” you’d keep on the top shelf—i.e. one you’re particularly fond/proud of?
I often revisit moments from summer camp in Northern Ontario where I would find a moment alone in nature. Like sitting by a fire at night, or sneaking off to sit by the lake and just listening to the sounds when I was a kid. I think I cherish those snowglobes/memories cause I spend pretty much zero time in nature at the moment and I know I need to change that. But it’s so comfy indoors and there are better snacks. Tough.
Who is a queer or trans artist/performer/creator that you think is doing really cool work right now? Why are they someone we should all be paying attention to?
Oh man there are so many exciting queer/trans artists at the moment who I think people should check out. A photographer called Wynne Neilly who people should be clamoring to work with. Great comics like Nori Reed and Jes Tom. So many. And whenever I make lists I end up leaving people out. But those are three that just popped into my head.
Mae Martin: SAP premieres March 28 on Netflix.
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